Monday, April 9, 2012

World Class

We have our own world class athletes... Lee Chong Wei, Nicol David... I'm sure they don't mind me not putting their Datuk title in front of their names. It' hard to magine Nicol training in Amsterdam and insisting that her coach, friends, trainers call her Datuk Nicol. LOL! .....Datuk Nicol.... Pumping 50 times!!!!

Apparently too, we have our world class education system, better than many first world countries, according to our Minister of Education. I don't know whether the businessmen who came to that conclusion based it on educated guesses or they were just trying to polish our own ego. World class education facilities, I think I'll agree somewhat, but I think if they really want to make it truly world class, the Ministry has got to start thinking about air-conditioning all schools. They should start building schools like office blocks instead of housing classes in different blocks. The heat is horrendous these days and bear in mind too that in this world class education system of ours, extra classes are a must. School starts at 7.30 a.m. and ends anywhere from 3.30 p.m. to 5 p.m. And after all these extra classes, many urban kids go for their own extra classes, aka tuitions. It's a crazy existence, I know but this chase for A(s) has gripped us all and got us fixated on academic prowess.

Anyway, world class we're definitely not... at least not our system. We do have world class materials, though. However, they're ini danger of being dumbed down by our schools.... and the root of it stems from the NEP. Birthed with good intentions to balance the sosio-economic imbalance, it went senget...

Any system built on unfair practice will eventually reap whatever it sows. We've gone so many decades on NEP, a system that skews up our value system. In NEP, we award and reward based on race. NEP got replaced by NDP which also feels like a chip off the old block cos it carries out the same practices. If one wants an instant yardstick to measure, just take a look our education system. It's far easier for Bumiputera students to gain admission into public universities or be given scholarship after their SPM. Just check out any school with Form 6. You hardly ever find Bumiputera students with really good results studying there. You'll find plenty of non-Malays though. I had a Chinese student who scored 7A(s) in her SPM who was left behind after her SPM. She was our best student and she was offered nothing while the rest of her classmates who did not do as well as her were offered places in Matriculation Colleges, UiTM, Polytechnics, etc, etc. She is sitting for her STPM this year, which everyone knows is way harder than Matriculation. In many ways, I feel for her.

My Malay classmates left after Standard 6, SRP and SPM even though their results were not spectacular. By the time I got to Form 6, those who were left behind were really weak but there was only a handful of them. When I got to university, I discoved how 'easy' it was for them to get a place. Had I been one of them, I could have ended up doing any course my combination allowed. But my race became my stumbling block. It's not hard to see why our History syllabus is so myopic. It would be hard to reconcile what we practise with, let's say... what happened in South Africa under the apartheid system. Like it or not, even though we call our practice here Affirmative Action, there were many instances when some form of apartheid practices took place.

When I went to work in the public sector, I met many capable people, of different races. Yet, it was always one race who will get promoted. I was brought up to believe that faith is supposed to make us rise above our selfish and greedy self. But I have also learned that faith is more often than never just a tool.... a means to achieve an end. Then I thought that perhaps the type of faith might have something to do with that skewed behaviour that I see. But it wasn't so either. Faith, regardless of types (i.e. Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, etc...) are used by many as means to ends too. Over the years, I've seen and experienced too, how in churches even how those who show themselves to be the most faithful behave in the same manner too because they cannot see beyong their own desires and wants. Faith becomes a means to an end.... I guess it's not what religion you prescribe to that turns us all into this selfish creatures... It's the failure of our world class education to inculcate into each one of us this sense of justice and fairness....

So is there hope? I'd like to think so. I think just as in we can be skewed, there is always this hope of getting it right again too. It means letting go, getting the right footing again... Doing right requires more courage than doing wrong, I feel. That's why it's always more difficult to do the right thing. But it's still possible.

World class education... Who are we trying to kid? Our graduates don't seem to meet market requirements. Talk to most teachers and many will tell you that there is a deterioration of quality. Talk to the employers and many will tell you that the employees they take in these days seem more docile, passive and unimaginative... Oh yes! Poor problem solvers too.

World class education? I think it's just a matter of time before some of the private institutions like Monash Malaysia University, Nottingham Malaysia University, Southampton Malaysia and some other foreign universities lead our charge to be world class... One simple reason would be the entry requirements in such instituitons which are set at a certain standard. Our local institutions have always practised 2 standards of admissions. For everything that is executed without honour... the offsprings of that labour can only be Cheat, Rot, Deceit, Lie, Lazy, Greed.... In the long run, nothing good really comes out from all these skewed values.....

Oh ya! I think this is perhaps true also! Each one of us is a certifed world-class cheat, quite easily, without a doubt. No training required. Training and discipline however, are required not to be a world-class cheat.

3 comments:

Eden said...

Hello,
I really enjoy your articles.
I'm a 15-year old malaysian high school student studying at SMK Abdul Rahman Talib in Kuantan. I agree with you about our low-quality education system. Creative thinking and problem solving values aren't promoted in school. I'm really disappointed that the English standard is quite low and we don't learn about shakespeare or other great and famous poets and authors. We also have very little information on the world history, I don't learn about Columbus, presidents of the USA, what happened in other commonwealth countries, 100 Years Of War, The Renaissance, American Civil War, etc. in school. The other sad thing is that my friend told me it's better that way, we don't have to memorize much in exam. Seems to me like I'm wasting years of my life memorizing for tests and not actually learning anything, and we are not stimulated to be curious. It hurts to think that these 12 years of 'education' is just wasting my time.
I have this dream of sitting in Warren Buffet's chair, making a name for myself in Wall Street and then, worldwide. I want to go to Stanford University in USA. I don't think an SPM will get me any nearer to my dream. So I thought about going to Australia before PMR, entering Year 10 and finishing my study after 2 more years. The certificate I get there will be more qualified to get me into Stanford. I'm not sure but my friend who moved to Australia said that after Year 12, you terus go into university.
What my point is, is it worth it to go to Australia to study for a highschool/college certificate?
My friend goes to Penrhos College, she's the same age as me. She didn't want to waste time and stress studying here so she went to Australia. Also, if my parents won't allow me to study in Australia before PMR, I will complete my study here like normal and try to get into either Nottingham, Monash or Southhampton Malaysia University. Will this plan B get me anywhere near my dream?
I would really appreciate your reply and I apologise for any unconveniences.

AJ7 said...

Hi, Thank you for your encouragement. 8) You sound to me like a well read 15-year-old. Most your age don't read Shakespeare any more. Hardly any will know the American Civil War. think even fewer will know Shakespeare now that his sonnets have been thrown out of the Lit sections in English and replaced with those comics.... it has a more glorified name in Graphic Novel, I know. LOL!

Generally, the education system in Malaysia does dumb down the students. It's something that I do not know is a product of a dual merit system for different races or just plain old manipulative politics. But neither does any good for us in the long run.

Many dream of going Stanford or Oxford, LSE, Imperial, etc... but it's not the end of the world if you don't get in. There are many other good places to study. While the institutions play an important role, I think what's more important will be our attitude... whether or not we have this willingness to be lifelong learners. Nothing beats that, I feel.

As for time wasted for staying beyond F3, I think very often we forget the time spent with family is also meaningful. These are heady days of mad rushes... and everyone seems to be in the rush to enter the job market. Perhaps one forgets that one will be spending the next 30-50 years working! That's a lifetime! Life is meant to be savoured too. I want to have some time to do some other things before I leave this world. To work till death just seems so empty... unless work is not just confined to just making money.... like Mother Theresa whose work was a calling.

Monash Malaysia and Nottingham Semenyih seem to be quite okay from what I've read in different forums. And their main campuses are well known. They seem to be keeping to their minimum requirements for admission which is quite high. If they continue to do that, there is no reason why they can't be good. Southampton Iskandar currently runs only one Engineering programme, Mechanical if I'm not wrong. I understand it's done partly in the UK. Southampton is one of the top engineering schools in the UK. You are fortunate in the sense that you have such opportunities such as these schooks made available to you here. There are a couple more such ventures in Malaysia.

The current STPM is undergoing changes. In its old form, it was a difficult exam and was well accepted by top universities. My own kid did STPM! It was tough on him but it did a lot of good for him. I always remember this... tough times don't last, tough people do. Tough exams train us to be resilient.... But I'll have to do a rethink by the time my other kid gets to it.. cos once there is school based assessment, the credibility becomes questionable.

But bottom line is this... good schools matter, good teachers also matter a lot. However, without a good attitude, it comes to nought. Hope this helps.

Eden said...

:) Your right. I appreciate your wise words. I don't know what path i'll take yet but as long as I have my gut and sense about me I'm sure I'll make it. :)